More than 60 clubs around Wales opted to take part in a second ‘seasonal repositioning trial’ which includes for the first time a clear break from matches and festivals for u7 to u11 teams during the winter months of December and January.
The ‘Piglets’ of Pyle RFC have already taken part in a number of generous community events during the break. The children have performed carols at a local care home, they’ve enjoyed a cinema night at the club and on Sunday 22 December, the whole club is taking part in the Pyle Mile – a festive-themed walk around the field for all mini and junior players and parents in aid of local food banks.
Pyle first team coach and rugby development lead for the club, Gareth Edwards said, “We always put a big emphasis on fun within the club and we saw the winter break as an ideal time to keep kids active and involved with the club while giving back into the community too. The events so far have been very successful and our coaches have also used the time to attend a coaching course and complete mental health awareness training, which is very important to us as a club. Children could miss out due to parents suffering with mental health issues and we don’t want anyone to feel alone.
“This is only the second season of our mini and junior section and it’s going from strength to strength with 150 players already. It was important to us to be fully inclusive as a club, there’s no charge to join and we see ourselves as a big family.”
Other clubs are using the time to concentrate on a range of fun, team-building fitness activities. Felinfoel juniors have enjoyed a pool session and are taking part in Parkrun as a team, a group of Dinbych players, coaches and families climbed local mountain Moel Famau, Rhiwbina Mini and Juniors held a successful Walking Rugby session for players and parents while Bargoed minis enjoyed a fun fitness session in the gym. There are plenty Christmas-themed events and parties taking place, while coaches and volunteers all over Wales have been offered opportunities to develop their skills with specific courses arranged for coaches of all levels. There is also training available for volunteers on areas such as 12 month pitch maintenance.
The clubs taking part in the trial will extend their season into July to incorporate some of the benefits experienced by players, families and volunteers during the first seasonal repositioning trial during the summer of 2018 with a clear emphasis on fun, festival-based events and multi-sport and community-based activities.
WRU Participation and Retention Manager Chris Ower said, “The key aims of the Block 2 are to give families, players, volunteers and pitches time an opportunity to recover at a time when matches often fall foul of poor weather and pitch conditions. This can involve a complete break or a mix of alternative team-building, fitness or community-focussed activities. It’s good to see that clubs have organised such a variety of innovative ideas to keep players, coaches and volunteers active yet refreshed for the rest of the season.
WRU Community Director Geraint John added, “We have a flexible approach to growing the game for all and we are very open to trying new ideas to engage with players, their families and vitally our volunteers in what is a challenging time for sports and communities. Some of the benefits experienced during the first seasonal repositioning trial included greater enjoyment, family engagement and skill development in better weather. However we acknowledge the need for a complete break during the summer holidays. Having worked with pitch experts, the advice is that a winter break when there is little or no growth could help sustain pitches for year-round use and we have put training in place for clubs to help them achieve this.”
Clubs will continue to fulfil a traditional season menu of training, matches and festivals during the Block 3 February to April period before entering Block 4 between May and July.
Clubs involved in the trial:
Blues: Barry, Beddau, Caerau Ely, Cowbridge, Fairwater, Llantwit Major, Old Illtydians, Pontypridd, Rhiwbina
Dragons: Bargoed, Machen, New Panteg
Ospreys: Aberavon Quins, Birchgrove, Bonymaen, Bridgend Sports, Bryncethin, Cefn Cribbwr, Dulais Valley, Kenfig Hill, Maesteg Celtic, Mumbles, Neath Athletic, Pencoed, Penlan, Pontardawe, Pyle, Swansea Uplands, Tondu, Tonmawr, Ystalyfera
North Wales: Abergele, Bala, COBRA, Colwyn Bay, Denbigh, Glyn Ceiriog, Mold, Newtown, Rhos, Rhyl, Ruthin, Shotton, Welshpool, Wrexham
Scarlets: Aberaeron, Ammanford, Amman United, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Lampeter, Felinfoel, Laugharne, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Newcastle Emlyn, New Dock Stars, Pantyffynon, Penybanc, Pontyberem, St Clears, Trimsaran, Tycroes,